Giant Public sector lumbering forward

Not the usual gripe about Northern Ireland’s employment being sixty per cent reliant on public sector funding. Samizdata picks up a BBC report that says the dymnamic is at work in Britain. A clear opportunity for forward thinking Tories to take on future PM Brown?

  • Harry Flashman

    Can anyone tell me what use the public sector actually serves? I mean with the exception of keeping the peace, putting out fires and defending the country. What do they do that wasn’t done perfectly well by charities and private agencies in the past? Education, health care, etc just like the provision of fresh milk and construction of houses are no concern of the government. If society, as it obviously does, requires these things then let them make their own arrangemnts to obtain them, you will very quickly discover that they are provided quicker, more efficiently, and cheaper when they are provided by the private sector. Compare communist Poland’s attempts to feed it’s population through state control in the 1980s, result mile long queues to buy cabbage and Tesco’s system today. The same applies to the NHS which now provides an appallingly poorer service than modern Poland’s free market system.

    Ah, but what about the poorest of the poor? Well first of all in the UK, one of the richest societies on the planet, in a period of statistically zero unemployment, where we need to import hundreds of thousands of immigrants to work for us, they don’t actually exist except for those who are addicted to state sponsored welfare living in state sponsored sink estates breeding the next generation of state sponsored welfare addicts.

    And for those who genuinely need assistance it is incumbent upon those more fortunate to help them – VOLUNTARILY – it is not the job of the government to force its ctizens with the threat of jail to donate to charitable funding for the poor. If the citizenry is so selfish not to do so voluntarily (and no free society would be so selfish) then so be it, that is free choice and adult government, they may live with the consequences of such a society and decide for themselves.

    I mention above the roles that government does have, yet there are exceptions. In the United States, the freeest most successful society in the history of mankind (pause while hoots of derision from the socialists die down, unable to actually name a freer more successful society) ofetn even these services are provided on a voluntary basis. In many smaller towns and rural areas there the police and fire services are made up entirely of volunteers, they also volunteer to serve in their National Guards to defend their homes. It is only when corporatist governments interfere in this model (as in shipping off local National Guard units to fight in foreign wars) that this system starts to fail.

    As I said before I now await NI’s hundreds of thousands of teachers, social workers, arts development junketeers, local government wallahs, health and safety fascists, community workers who all sponge off my wages to tell me I’m a heartless pig who has no sympathy for his fellow man despite the fact that it is not libertarians like me who have condemned countless millions to rot in the poverty of the socialist paradises that have been created around the world.

  • Jo

    I see some posters on the site linked believe, probably in all sincerity, that anyone in the public sector should be deprived of the right to vote. UKIP there as well. Birds of a feather and all that. Mad as brushes.

  • Dessertspoon

    “Can anyone tell me what use the public sector actually serves?”

    Isn’t this a bit like asking “What have the Romans ever done for us???” – as you then go on to list what they do “..keeping the peace, putting out fires and defending the country…”. Who makes sure they get paid – these wonderful individuals carrying out the services you obviously deem worthy of your hard earned taxes? Who administers their pensions, gets them to the fire to put it out, provides them with the backup to keep the peace etc etc??? That’ll be the civil servants, the public sector. Also considering where we live I’d rather not have a volunteer Police force, I don’t like our “volunteers” style of justice and I’d like my law enforcement officers to have a little bit more training and spend a little less time electioneering to keep their jobs year after year!!!

    You also espouse the benefits of the free market economy referring to the Gods of Money in the US of A. Privatisation isn’t always the answer, I agree there are some areas where it can be better financially and in terms of efficiency to have services provided by private companies but not in every case. In many cases Profiteering doesn’t equal great service quite the opposite in fact. Despite the gripes people have (quite rightly) about our NHS I wouldn’t swap it for the American system of “if you can pay you can get better.”

    PS: It is now 2005 not 1985 and Mrs Thatcher isn’t the PM anymore Harry!!

  • Harry Flashman

    You know Jo, I disagree with the proposal that public service workers should be denied the vote. Though is it really so crazy to state that as beneficiaries of public disbursements they should not have a say on how those disbursements are organised? It’s very like the fact that when remuneration for directors in any club or business is being discussed the recipients of such remunerations recuse themselves from voting on the grounds of conflicts of interest.

    No as I say I disagree with such ideas however I disagree even further with your labelling the proposers as “mad”. It was a convenient tool of Stalinists in the USSR, Cuba, China and North Korea to lock up opponents to their policies as lunatics. After all everyone knew that socialist utopias were perfect societies, so how could you not treat opponents as insane?

    Jo oppose the arguments on their merits don’t simply label their proponents as “mad”, you’ll have to do better than that.

  • Pravda

    Hmmmm…the poor old lady who refused to pay a portion of her council tax was a retired social worker! Her annual income was higher than average full-time male earnings! (Allegedly her income is £37,000 per year) Maybe these propagandists should pick their examples more carefully.

    It is certainly true that the state can only afford a big payroll if the overall economy is healthy, but attempts to measure public sector productivity are inadequate. For example, Tony Blair promised to cut school class sizes- this surely represents a cut in productivity, but most would see it as a positive thing.

  • Harry Flashman

    So dessertspoon you signally failed to answer my initial question, I named the three services which have been accepted since the beginning of organised society as expected from government not you, but my point is what does government do BESIDES THESE SERVICES that couldn’t be achieved by the private sector and I want hard examples. All those vague other issues, pensions (that’s a joke, the publicly funded pensions are the greatest fraud in the history of finance), and so on can be carried out by the private sector. I have had experience of private health care in dozens of societies around the globe and all of them without exception provided a better and more economical service than the clapped out dreadful NHS – without exception, get off the public tit folks you have nothing to lose but your chains.

    Maggie was not a libertarian, she knocked down straw men; the decaying Soviet Union, the big manufacturing unions and allowed the monsters of public service unions and the European superstate to grow like topsy on her watch. I’d take the honest miners and steel workers any time over the quasi-Stalinists embedded in the teaching and local government monster unions of today and don’t get me started on the BBC!

  • Jo

    HF:
    To take up the issues argued by some of those on that site would be like my broken pencil – pointless. To believe as you appear to do that government should not have responsibility for the health or wellbeing of the population is the perspective of an ant who surveys the labouring mass of his fellow creatures, having gained the relative santuary of the leaf, and who prepares to defend his crumb from the marauding masses. Rfererncing opponents as supporters of the gulag system is equally antlike in terms of compressing all opposing views with jaw-dropping disregard for diversity of opinion. Now, where is my insect repellent?

  • George

    Jo,
    where do you draw the line on how much we should spend in the public sector?

    Kenneth Clarke in his speech at the Tory conference put it at 40% of GDP.

    I think the UK under Brown is crawling up towards 45% which means either it drops back towards 40% through cuts or taxes go up.

    Northern Ireland is up at 65% or something in that region I believe, which is why only 14 billion in raised in taxes and 22 billion is being spent.

  • Jo

    George:

    We need to spend more rather than less public money here. We need billions spent on our infrastructure: water, sewerage roads and rail. PFI is simply mortgaging our children and grandchildren to pay generations of debt when in fact the capital outlay will be repaid, with generous interest, over a relatively short period of time. It is a complete con for which future generations will curse us. Destroying the public sector is code for poor wages, poor employment protection here and better jobs – but only for those intending a career in a Sri Lankan call centre! Its about time the lie that is indirect taxation was exposed.

  • George

    Jo,
    you say more money needs to be spent in NI but where are you to get the money except by raising taxes or increasing the size of the private sector?

    Billions are being wasted in NI and you seem to want the British government to hand over more.

    You’ve a brass neck, I’ll give you that much but don’t be surprised if Hain and Gordon Brown give you short shrift.

    Why should so many people in Northern Ireland be given superfluous state jobs, which are paid for by the British taxpayer?

    Why should there be no pain for the Northern Ireland taxpayer?

    Reforming the public sector is not the same as destroying it but not reforming it will destroy Northern Ireland eventually. Or do you expect an annual 8 billion-pound cheque (index linked) for perpituity?

    Easy for you to talk about the threat of poor wages and poor employment protection here but it is because of the bloated public sector that most of the other jobs on offer are poorly paid.

    If you don’t get the public sector job, it’s flipping burgers or answering telephones. There’s always London to emigrate to I suppose.

    I don’t know how you can justify taking Northern Ireland’s spend in the public sector above the 65% rather than looking to cut it back to a healthy 40%.

    When you have a situation, as in NI, where the cream of the country makes more money pushing government paper than in the private sector is it any wonder that the economy is in the state it is.

  • Tom Griffin

    The CEBR produced an interesting study earlier this year of the regional disparity across the UK.

    Public expenditure accounts for more than 50 per cent of GDP only in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North-east of England.

    The disparity in favour of Scotland may become particularly salient when Gordon Brown makes it into No. 10. He would control public spending in areas like health in England, but not in Scotland.

    Bear in mind that the Tories won the popular vote in England, and are committed to a policy of English votes on English laws, while some of the Scottish Tories are flirting with fiscal autonomy.

    I suspect Brown will try to squeeze public spending outside England in order to keep the ‘Scottish Raj’ a non-issue.

    Northern Ireland would be an easy target, and it would tie in neatly with the need to make direct rule uncomfortable for the DUP.

    Perhaps this agenda has already been reflected in Peter Hain’s speech to the Labour Party Conference last week.

  • raven

    ‘The community Sector’ is the most corrupt in N.Ireland.
    Run by paramilitary gangsters for paramilitary gangsters, to control their communities. They do not adhere to any equality or fair employment legislation, in particular section 75, and woe betide any community worker who challenges this. The government knows this. The Dept. of Social Development bolsters this, as does Local Strategy Partnerships. Just look at the self serving power lobby behind the throne of any Local Strategy Partnership board in any area in Northern Ireland. At the very least the Statutory Sector have to adhere to ‘fair employment legislation’ and ‘risk management’ strategies in some form. Where I worked paedophiles, rapists and serial sadistic abusers were protected by those ‘self serving gangsters’ on my Board of Management. I have been threatened and intimidated, slandered and hung out to dry. I believe all EU funding to be inherently corrupt and mostly utilised by private organisations and agenda enforcing gangsters. All EU money should be directed to third world economies, it is not poverty that is N. Ireland’s problem, it is the social anarchy precipitated by Paramiliteries and their now legitimate private business partners that has communities on their knees.

  • Jo

    “Billions are being wasted in NI “

    No, billions were spent keeping this place part of the UK, for better or for worse. Now where have I heard those words before? 🙂 One of the biggest barriers to attracting inward invesement is the lack of a local government and the fact that the world STILL sees violence, this time fat men waving swords at the police or fat women protesting at a Mass in a churchyard.

    “If you don’t get the public sector job, it’s flipping burgers or answering telephones. “

    ..is it better that we all do that then?

    Look, its going to take decades for the public private spend to balance out more. In the meantime, perhaps you know a private contractor who will complete and fund the dual carriageway between Belfast and the Border? No? I didnt think so…;)

    And BTW, I have a brass neck, ty 🙂

  • criostoir

    Flat taxes and vouchers. Everyone pays the same proportionately (excluding a nil rate band), everyone gets the same exactly. Vouchers to be used at the school of your choice, the landlord / mortgage lender of your choice, the medical insurance provider of your choice. Simple, effective; corruption, social engineering, and sectarian whinging free. It would also introduce a market vibrancy to all services and the supply chains which service them which would spill over into an improved private sector.

    Regarding more successful, more free societies than the US -Iceland. Shows that prosperity is linked to openness, education and motivation (ie optimism and energy) not market size.

  • missfitz

    Harry
    Personally, I am intrigued by your contention that these thing were done “done perfectly well by charities and private agencies in the past? “

    I disagree completely, and need to ask you – do we bring back the workhouses as well? Bring back poor laws? Institute legislation for those who cant pay their poor tax? Have any genuine person with an illness rely on unstructured benevolence?

    Surely the Nation State re-established its function of protecting its citizens post WW2 with the establishment of the Welfare State?

    And having lived and worked in the States for most of my adult life, and having worked in the medical system, I find your comments on the delivery of health care to be disingenuous.

  • Jo

    missfitz:

    Ah, the good old days..based on poorly paid (in fact unpaid) labour…oh yes, lets bring back slavery as well. Sure that never did anyone any harm at all…oh dear, where did all these black people come from…

  • missfitz

    Dunno Jo, they may have wandered out of pappa Harry’s cotton field

  • criostoir

    you have to admit that social housing policy hasn’t done much for NI. I’m a believer that if you don’t ask people to give back the things they buy with their dole money you shouldn’t worry if they use their housing benefit to buy a house rather than rent one.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen sectarian stuff painted on a private house and I’m not sure how many people have been drummed out of a house they own. Perhaps the Nips take it more seriously when people are losing a possession rather than just being re-housed by nanny state.

  • missfitz

    http://www.nihe.gov.uk/news/news.asp?Id=589

    Criostor
    The NIHE spent almost £45 million last year, purchasing owner/occupied housing from people who were intimidated. In the course of my work, I have many other people who failed to qualify for SPED, and who presented with very genuine circumstances.

  • criostoir

    Jesus. Thanks for the link.

    Recently the owner occupied houses in Breezemount in Bangor were valued at £83K. Your stats allow for the purchase of 542 owner occupied houses a year at that value. Ok there’d be professional fees and probably help with removal but that is a truly massive number.

    But I think the points the report makes on integrated housing may back up my own point. Smaller housing association schemes tactically positioned and integrated, immediately available for purchase using housing benefit, wages or a mix. Basically a state supported market not direct regimented state provision.

  • missfitz

    I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that the number of SPED purchases has risen significantly this year. I gather that things had settled down significantly over the previous 2-3 years, and there had been real hopes for an end to the scheme.

    For interest sake, any of my clients that have availed of SPED only get the price of the house, no help with fees, storage or moving costs.

  • Patrick Brown

    Speaking as a public sector paper-shuffler, I firmly believe in the value of state-provided education, health care and welfare. I also think the system we’ve got is hopelessly corrupt. There are too many layers between funding and funded, which don’t add anything of value to the process and cream off an unjustifiable amount of money.

    In education, for example, the curriculum is decided by central government, and the budget of each individual school is run locally. It would make perfect sense for central government to simply allocate a budget to each school, I would have thought. Instead they give the money to pointless committees of the “great and the good” called Education Boards, who then allocate budgets to individual schools, don’t decide policy or contribute anything at all as far as I can tell, but somehow manage to cream off a substantial amount of money.

    The schools themselves used to employ their cleaning staff directly, but now, thanks to the government’s mania for “public-private partnerships”, they have to employ cleaners via an agency. So what do the agencies add to the process? They simply tranfer the previously directly-employed cleaner from the school’s employ to their own employ, and then hire them back to the schools for a fee. The same people are doing the same work, but the agency takes a cut, which means less of the money goes on the actual cleaning.

    So there’s two entirely parasitical layers of people making a lot of money out of education without contributing a jot to education, and it applies in every other area of the public sector – health trusts and agencies in health, contractors and subcontractors and housing associations in housing. It’s a lucrative job-creation scheme for people who move in the right circles at taxpayers’ expense. I’m quite sure the public sector could be substantially reduced in size and cost while doing the same work providing the same services, just by cutting out these very well-paid middlemen.

  • criostoir

    Patrick,

    Vouchers. £5.5K a kid. I believe that’s what the economist claims we spend on average per child per year in the UK. You give the voucher to the parent – they give it to the Headteacher of the school of their choice. He or she claims the money and is empowered to spend as he/she sees fit subject to agreement of a board of directors selected by the head but approved by the shareholders (ie parents). No reason why the county council couldn’t own the school

    Personally I’d outsource the exam system too but that’s another story.

    And I’m not a Tory. I’ve just seen enough of middle management in the private sector to know it must be even worse in the public and I’d like public education to be able to show it has a greater passion and better skills than private without being hampered by the interference of people who don’t work at the front line and whose progress doesn’t depend on the excellence of their delivery.

  • aquifer

    Common goods and services can be provided without producing an inflating public sector payroll. Having money paid out to do something in particular is a useful form of accountability. There are too many undermanaged and unchallenged public servants unclear about what they should be doing, or disillusioned, often kept in post to justify their boss’s inflated grade, or trapped in a job long having lost their boss’s confidence. The whole grade system should be scrapped and replaced with temporary assignments within a service at the same basic rate, with more pay for responsibility, but time limited. People could find a level that matched their abilities, and the productive would rise. Dependence on one boss or class of bosses for progression long term can give rise to various behaviours including suppression of talent, cronyism, unfairness, or bullying leading to childish dependence and refusal of responsibility. Some, unable to rise or fall in grade, coast on in unproductive deluded disgruntled irrelevance.

  • criostoir

    Some;

    unable to rise, or fall in grade,

    coast on, in

    unproductive deluded, disgruntled irrelevance”

    that’s quite beautiful. well done.

  • IJP

    Patrick

    Very well said.

    Cristoir

    Very well agreed with Patrick.

    Jo

    You haven’t answered the question. If you want more public money spent in NI, where is it going to come from exactly?

    I’ve a suggestion: follow Patrick’s suggestions to remove the middle man, and use the savings to invest in infrastructure which helps business to flourish.

    Oh, and toll the road to the border to increase income – after all, that’s how they did it in the Republic!

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah, don’t you just love the forensic like debating skills of Jo and missfitz? I state twice that my beliefs are “Libertarian”, now I’m sure it doesn’t take a genius to imagine that that word dreives from “Liberty”. But what do those brain addled public servants, leeching off my hard earned money, while surfing the internet and no doubt emailing hysterically funny jokes around the office to each other, come up with in response? Yes I want to enslave black people! Gee whizz, I mean what the fu…?

    Yes I don’t support a bloated public service so I must be a racist, that follows after all the Guardian tells us that so it must be true. Grow up girls and try proper debating.

  • Jo

    HF:

    You prove your point that your impractical, ultra-Right, demented ideas are unworthy of reasonable debate and that you wilfully misunderstand or are too thick to understand the points made by opposing view. My experience of the Right is that they tend to be somewhat less cerebral.

    IJP:

    Income tax has been artificially depressed at current levels for too long at the current levels for political reasons. I believe the higher rate should be raised.
    There appeared to be no problem with slapping billions on the table for Iraq and similarly last year as a sweetener in the December talks. The money can be found if there is the political will. Your point on road tolling is a reasonable one (works well in France) and all the more notable for possessing that quality in contrast with the abuse substitute for argument.

  • harry flashman

    Jo, tell me the part that I misunderstood about missfitz’ and your snarky allegation that I was some sort of racist slaver, do tell oh enlightened one this big stupid bubba shore needs some fancy larnin’ from you.

  • Scotsman

    NI is feeling the “Barnett Squeeze” often talked of here in Scotland. Spending has grown a lot, but it has grown proportionately more in England than in Scot, NI, Wales. Scotland’s static/falling population means its spending per head has held up, while NI’s continuing population growth means less growth in spending per capita. With UK-wide pay awards for many parts of the public sector, there is perhaps less around than might otherwise be the case. But there has still been growth in spending and it’s not likely to continue.

    If NI wants better infrastructure, the money will have to come from somewhere within existing budgets.

    The question is, who decides which- civil servants and appointed committees, or local political reps? The choice is….Paisley’s?

  • criostoir

    I’d like to make a point and I’m not sure it makes financial sense but I’ll float it anyway.

    I grew up in NI. I was educated here to 18. Then I went off to “the mainland” to take a degree and professional quals. For the next 13 years I paid all my taxes in english counties.

    Apparently 75% of kids who go to universities outside NI don’t return (I’m one of the 25% but it took a while).

    So it seems to me that while NI receives a disproportionate amount of public expenditure so the mainland extracts a disproportionate amount of NI talent, taking taxes from people which, this regionalist approach would suggest, it has not invested in.

  • Jo

    Scotsman:

    There is much talk of our lower tax burden here as opposed to Eng/Scot. The figures bear that our in absolute terms, but income is relatively low here, my gas bill has gone up by 33% at the same time as I see British Gas offering a price freeze for its customers until 2010!!!! Housing costs, long lagging behind, are rapidly catching up with England. The introduction of water charges and increased rates will add 30-30% to service bills for households. Will that mean more investment associated with our “paying our way” more? I think not.

    Harry:
    I take it you havent courted for some time, youve lost whatever touch you had 😉

    Criost:

    Good point, but somewhat spoiled by the fact that the “mainland” means France 😉

  • criostoir

    Jo,

    Quite right. Funnily enough I don’t use the expression myself usually but in this context “great britain” as distinct from ni sounded a bit chippy.

  • George

    Jo,

    “No, billions were spent keeping this place part of the UK, for better or for worse.”

    But this place would still be part of the UK without these billions and these billions could be better spent. Even better these billions could be earned in this place so that the people are in greater control of their destiny.

    “One of the biggest barriers to attracting inward invesement is the lack of a local government and the fact that the world STILL sees violence, this time fat men waving swords at the police or fat women protesting at a Mass in a churchyard.”

    A barrier but not the biggest barrier. The other barriers are unattractive tax laws, low number of workers able or willing to work in the private sector, no local control over finances and poor infrastructure.

    “..is it better that we all do that then?”

    The point I was making is you have to build up the private sector and move away from where you are, that the best jobs are government ones.

    People need more choice than public service or poor service industry jobs. This only comes with a decent and vibrant private sector. This only comes with a lean and effective public sector.

    “Look, its going to take decades for the public private spend to balance out more. In the meantime, perhaps you know a private contractor who will complete and fund the dual carriageway between Belfast and the Border? No? I didnt think so…;)”

    This comment nearly shows a smugness borne out of the misguided idea that the money is going to keep flowing from the British taxpayer to balance the Northern Ireland books indefinitely.

    It won’t. There are huge cuts to be made and if the people of Northern Ireland don’t decide where they are to come, the NIO will decide for them.

    The Belfast to Newry section will continue to be substandard for the rest of this decade at least. You may find that funny but it’s just another nail in Northern Ireland’s economic coffin.

  • missfitz

    Harry, wind yer neck in!
    I’m not a public servant, although I was one for a few years about a decade back. I’m also not a forensic debater, but I checked the Slugger guidelines earlier and see that isnt a pre-requisite for participation.

    My original comments were in response to your contention that we should descend to pre-Welfare state systems of local charitable assistance. The bottom line is that this just didnt work at the time, and with our increasingly mobile society would face even less of a chance of succeeding.

    I agree that fault can be found with our present system, if not least with the perception that the ne’er do wells do very well indeed thank you. The real problem with our present system has been the creation of expectation of being looked after cradle to grave. We have lost the ethic of self-sufficiency, something that certainly exisits in the US.

    However, I dont feel we should pull all the way back with our provision of help for those in need. I agree with some of the “third way” philosophies of the Blair government, heretical as that may sound in some quarters. Provision of assistance to some, but with the ridor that if you can work, you must work.
    As to the “bring back the slave” crack, that was a joke.
    hyperlink

  • Jo

    George:

    I dont find the poor quality of the dual carriageway funny at all, Im just making the point that public money to improve the development of the regionis required to facilitate development for everyone.

    No philanthropist such as your namesake Mr Soros is going to improve it for the public good so its left to the public service and for the despised public servants to make hard case for funding and negotiate. As for our railways, comparable with Albania, until recently….

  • George

    Jo,

    but Northern gets more than its fair share of public money and has less than its fair share of infrastructure and you seem to want the same bozos to get the money again so they can waste even more.

    Also, you believe that the higher tax band has to be raised if NI is to get the required finances.

    I would love to hear how you think this would increase the tax take by 50% which is what is needed.

    Surely, such a move would make Northern Ireland even less of an attractive option for Foreign Direct Investment than it already is.

    I read at the weekend that NI got 1% of the FDI the Irish Republic did in 2003.

    That is a disgraceful figure but how many unionists have brought up this fact?

    NI workers are 21% less productive than those in the UK, never mind the Irish Republic.

    24% have no qualifications as compared to 14% in the UK.

    Business spend on research is a third of the UK.

    The only road I can see is the one to cut the size of the public sector, even down to the UK average, which is still too big but a start.

  • Jo

    George
    Treasury will not allow regional taxation. I meant the overall higher UK rate should be raised. Its more honest I suppose, but that equally shows why it wont happen! 😉

  • George

    Jo,
    if that won’t happen, what do you recommend instead? That was your only suggestion so far.

    Where do you see the money coming from?

    How can the 7 billion gap in infrastructure funding over the next 10 years be closed and how can the 8 billion handed over each year for daily be reduced?

    These are the questions the NIO are asking themselves at the moment and these are the questions any new assembly will have to ask itself.

    As the public sector makes up 65% of the GDP in NI, it has to be the central place where changes take place.

    What would you do differently from the NIO?

  • Brian Boru

    Reforms are apparently on their way if what Mr.Hain says is anything to go by. This is likely to make a potential future NI more affordable if the role of the State in the NI economy is less. The Northern economy would also growth more strongly with less intervention by the State. The Southern economy is doing so well because in the late 80’s, the state reduced unnecessary interference in the economy.

  • Brian Boru

    Oops. Slight mispelling in this sentence: “This is likely to make a potential future NI more affordable if the role of the State in the NI economy is less.”.

    I meant a “potential future United Ireland”.

  • Jo

    “How can the 7 billion gap in infrastructure funding over the next 10 years be closed and how can the 8 billion handed over each year for daily be reduced?”

    Difficult question. In the first we are left with the legacy of pennypinching and storing up problems for the future under Direct Rule and thats the Thatcher legacy. Well done Maggie. Serious underinvestment means that there is a price to pay for the next decade. There are savings from security non-spending – good job we have another war to suck up all that extra cash isnt it?

    Creating a low wage economy here and sacking civil servants is not the answer. Perhaps the RPA will throw up some efficiencies but I honestly dont see that making any inroads to the subsidy from the rest of the UK. Thats what we are stuck with – until there is oil discovered off Rathlin. Good job Dublin doesnt want us any more!

  • Scotsman

    Watch that oil off Rathlin- we Scots have to hand over our oil money to London, so we’ll be measuring the distance from Kintyre to the oil wells very carefully to see if we can get some back!

  • Scotsman

    “There is much talk of our lower tax burden here as opposed to Eng/Scot. The figures bear that our in absolute terms, but income is relatively low here, my gas bill has gone up by 33% at the same time as I see British Gas offering a price freeze for its customers until 2010!!!! Housing costs, long lagging behind, are rapidly catching up with England. The introduction of water charges and increased rates will add 30-30% to service bills for households. Will that mean more investment associated with our “paying our way” more? I think not.”

    Much as I sympathise, the political reality is that universal services require universal(ish) tax regimes. Gas & electric prices are soaring here as well, the much-vaunted “price competition” is not much in eveidence. Council Tax has doubled since 1997. As the owner of a 3-bed house in a provincial Scottish town I pay out £1650 annually in council tax and water charges. That’s more than a month’s take-home pay.(Incidentally, the water charges are directly proportional to the council tax, unlike in England where they have a flat rate water charge.)

    Lower wages in NI mean that locals are less able to pay for said charges, but the local state is already generously funded so it seems reasonable to ask locals to contribute.

    Maybe over time the shift from security expenditure will lead to more money available for infrastructure.

    One thing we Scots do have in far-flung places is additional funding for certain public sector jobs, a bit like London weighting. But not for private sector workers, and it all has to come out of the existing Barnett money. Perhaps you could beg more money of Treasury for public workers on account of NI’s general remoteness.

    But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • Jo

    Scot:
    The world is truly ill-divid. I have quoted “average figures for NI and Scotland people have laughed and said they were WAY too low. The average I was working on for Scot was something like £1100. I think they are that way due to the level of people who in fact get 90% paid for them through benefits or the like.

  • Animus

    No one has mentioned the Review of Public Administration, which will greatly reduce the number of bodies in existence, and hopefully, reduce the money which is spent keeping them going. If one thinks even in terms of admin costs for five library boards as opposed to one, or the cost of maintaining 26 district councils as opposed to seven or 11, it’s a massive spend and not very efficient. I don’t know how much can really be expected to be saved, but I know the Review Team and and UK government are certainly hoping to claw back some cash that way.

    Quit complaining about how your taxes get spent propping up the public sector, Harry. The private sector has its fair share of blatant waste of (public) money, like the cleaning example listed earlier. Another example from health care: a number of NHS home helps were made redundant but were all hired by a private company contracted out to do the job. They all took a substantial pay cut and reduced terms and conditions. Someone made money, but it certainly wasn’t the home helps, and their motivation didn’t exactly rise when they learned they were working just as hard as before but for less money and worse conditions.

  • Jo

    Ahem:
    Animus, I referred to the RPA at 1.01pm above.
    As John Mills said: “worth waiting for” – except its NOT. 🙂

  • Animus

    Oops, sorry, Jo, quite right you did – wasn’t paying attention while furtively posting at work. I wonder if RPA will throw up the same efficiencies as the Gershon review – all savings were going to go to front line services, which resulted in many charities’ budgets being slashed. I would like to think that it will be a bit more successful.

    What do other contributers think? RPA – bane or saviour?